The Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday that disruptive behavior by a large group of teens at the Ford City Mall overwhelmed mall security and the Chicago Police. The reporter wanted to know, "where were the moms when the teen melee shut the mall?"
As it turns out there were quite a few moms and dads there with their young daughters for a promotional appearance by the popular boy band Mindless Behavior.
The Sun-Times reported that the band had recently concluded the event, aimed at a primarily tween girl fan-base, when about 45 minutes later a “group of youths” entered the mall intent on creating “chaos and havoc,” Mall general manager John Sarama insisted that the disturbance was not related to the band’s appearance, which ended about 4 p.m.
“The people who came out for it were mothers and fathers and girls . . .” Sarama said. “It was a very positive event.”
“You saw parents grabbing their babies, and run into stores — one woman had two babies,” said Manny Torres, a salesman at the mall. “It was crazy.”
The reporting indicates that there were plenty of parents there, unfortunately, not the parents of the teens who came to cause trouble.
Traffic came to a standstill as teenagers jumped on cars, both parked and moving, according to a police report obtained by the Tribune. Many of those involved ignored orders to disperse, and police arrested 19 people between the ages of 13 and 18, according to police.
A 16-year-old is charged with battery of a mall security guard who was trying to evacuate the mall, AP stated.
According to Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva, a department spokesman, a CTA bus driver suffered minor injuries and a "kid" was also hurt, and that person was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, also in good condition.
“It was in many ways a flash mob kind of concept that I’ve seen on Michigan Avenue,” said Sarama, who said he’d never seen anything like it in his five years at the mall.
What were these teens trying to accomplish anyway?
Torres, who works in a kiosk in the middle of one of the mall concourses, downplayed the seriousness of the incident. “You just had to get out of the way. That was pretty much it,” Torres said. “It wasn’t anything too chaotic. It was kids acting like kids.”
The teens may have meant it as a harmless prank, but the shoppers didn't know their intent. These days' people might have assumed it was an "active shooter situation" and stampeded in a panic and causing many more injuries than the two reported.
What can you do to protect you and your family in this situation?
1. Maintain awareness of what is going on around you at all times.
2. When you see or hear trouble heading your way move towards an emergency exit. If there is no exit nearby seek safety in one of the stores.
3. If you are not near a store entrance look for cover behind a kiosk or other fixed objects such as benches or planters.
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